I’m continuing my voyage of discovery with regards to Cambodian street food here in Siem Reap. Everything is “new” to me, yet familiar due to their similarity to Malaysian/Singaporean food (with pronounced variations, of course).
- Nom bao, essentially steamed meat-filled buns introduced by the ethnic-Chinese to Cambodia. In Thailand, it’s called “salabao” whilst in Vietnam, it’s “bahn bao”. In Singapore & Malaysia, where the ethnic Chinese populace are large, the Chinese term “bao” is used.
- Cha kway - another street snack introduced by the Chinese to Cambodia. It’s called “yu cha kway” in Penang & Singapore (Teochew & Hokkien pronunciation), “yau cha kwai” in mainly Cantonese-speaking KL & Ipoh in Malaysia and Hong Kong, “youtiao” in Mandarin-speaking parts of China & Taiwan, and “chakwe” in Indonesia.
- The same street vendor also sells nom heng, which is “hum chim peng” in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Same taste/texture replicated here.
- Sach ko ang - Cambodian beef satay, very well-marinated before barbecued over a brazier. Love the smoky aromas and sweet-savoury flavour. “Sach ko ang” vendors normally offer beef liver besides beef skewers. Both are good.
An essential accompaniment to the beef skewers is “chruck”: pickled green papaya-cucumber-carrot relish, similar to Malay “jeruk” (in fact, both are pronounced the same way).
- Nömpang - the Cambodian version of the more well-known Vietnamese “banh mi”: baguette sandwich filled with pate, cured meats & daikon-cucumber-carrot pickles. There’s a slight difference between the two, with the Cambodian version having a rather super-spicy chili relish which practically rendered my tongue numb.
- Ansam chék - grilled banana leaf-wrapped glutinous rice roll with a banana centre.
- Nom chiak - Cambodian rice flour-coconut milk cake. It has a toothsome texture, and a delicious woodsey aroma from the grilling.
- Nom plai ai - glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar & coated with fresh, dessicated coconut. This is a very common dessert in Malaysia & Singapore known as “onde-onde”. In Indonesia, the same dessert is called “klepon”. But whilst the other version have green-tinged rice balls (through the use of pandanus juice for the colour & aroma), the Cambodian version has white rice balls.
- Nom keo - Cambodian version of the empanada. The version here is shaped like Malaysian or Indonesian curry puffs, but with a non-spicy minced pork & vegetable filling.
- Kro Lan - a sweet-salty glutinous rice and black-eyed pea sweet grilled in young bamboo tubes over open-fire. Once grilled, the bamboo casing will be peeled off like a banana skin.
- Nom groy - these are deep-fried glutinous rice balls filled with sweetened, mashed mung beans. Studded with black sesame seeds which are fragrant when deep-fried, these delicious golden-fried balls have a crisp and slightly chewy exterior, but soft & yielding underneath.
- This deep-fried pastries filled with shredded turnips (of Chinese origin) are absolutely delicious. I asked the vendor for the Cambodian name but lost it when I accidentally threw the slip of paper away. Irregardless, I’ll be looking out for this snack again the next time I am in Cambodia.
Most of my time here, of course, have been spent visiting Siem Reap’s rich collection of historical monuments. Hope to be able to acquaint myself with more of the local food items soon.